Howard Kurtz, host of CNN’s Reliable Sources, probes ABC’s Brian Ross on just about every aspect of the network’s high-profile “open marriage” interview last week with Marianne Gingrich. The host comes out swinging: “To air this story a day and a half before the South Carolina primary feels like a late hit.”
Ross responds that the network didn’t want to air the thing within 24 hours of the primary, prompting Kurtz to jump in: “Twenty-four hours would have been too close but 36 or 48 hours is okay?” To that, Ross said that you’ve got to give the other side a full news cycle to rebut stuff.
Later in the chat, Kurtz grabs another talking point: news value. “In watching the Nightline story, I felt that most of what Marianne Gingrich had to say — and she’d never done it in a television setting — she has said in the past, to print reporters, for example, from Esquire, Washington Post. So what in your view made that newsworthy since the allegations . . . were not new, but what was new was that you had video?”
Send in the Can’t-Have-It-Both-Ways SWAT Force. Kurtz can’t with a straight face advance these contradictory points. If, in his judgment, there’s nothing new in the ABC report, then it cannot be a “late hit.” And if it’s really a “late hit,” then it has to pack some news punch. Choose, Kurtz!